Survey: virtualization in two-thirds of enterprises by '09

More than a third of enterprise IT shops have implemented x86 server virtualization, and nearly two-thirds expect to do so by 2009, Forrester Research finds in a new survey.

IT departments already using virtualization have virtualized 24% of servers, and that number is expected to grow to 45% by 2009.

Vendors need to get busy upgrading virtualization products, because many enterprises have been using the technology for two years or more and are ready to expand usage, Forrester reports.

"BMC Software, IBM Tivoli, HP Software, and Microsoft must repackage their offerings to create immediate tactical value by adding or buying tools for virtualization environment tasks, such as converting between physical and virtual servers and rapidly updating virtual server configurations," Forrester states.

The Forrester report -- "x86 virtualization adopters hit the tipping point" -- was released Friday and is based on a survey of 275 enterprise server decision-makers.

Previous Forrester research actually showed higher adoption of server virtualization, with 50% of IT shops using the technology in production and pilots in 2006.

Estimates tend to be "all over the map," and IT executives are sometimes too optimistic about predictions of future use, says report lead author Frank Gillett. But the survey results "show the power and popularity of the idea ... and demonstrates there is significant intent to increase usage."

The latest report finds that 37% of IT departments have virtualized servers already, and another 13% plan to do so by July 2008. An additional 15% think they will virtualize x86 servers by 2009.

As enterprises gain a couple years experience with virtualization, they will move from tactical, experimental approaches to strategic IT infrastructure initiatives that might involve upgrading servers, storage, networks and systems management.

But virtualization isn't close to being universally adopted throughout enterprises, Gillett says. IT executives typically aren't using the technology for critical applications, or platforms like grid computing and supercomputing, he says.

"Virtualization is working its way [up] from things where people are less uptight about performance," he says.

Virtualization is primarily about sharing machines and portability, but these may not be compelling reasons to virtualize critical workloads, according to Gillett. Machine sharing isn't that necessary if a machine is already busy, and portability might not be compelling when there are few other servers a workload can be moved to.

This story, "Survey: virtualization in two-thirds of enterprises by '09" was originally published by Network World.

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